Apple purée and applesauce are condiments made from cooked apples, readily available in stores and simple to make at home. They are used as side dishes, baby food and in baking as a fat substitute. They vary in sweetness and may contain spices, most frequently cinnamon. There is a subtle difference between the two, but the terms can mostly be used interchangeably.
Apple purée is made by chopping and coring apples, steaming, baking or otherwise cooking them until they are soft, then blending them in a food processor. The result is a smooth, even-textured mash. For added smoothness, some recipes suggest removing the skins from the apples before blending them. Apple purée can also be made by cooking the apples in a pan with a little water, stirring, until they simmer down into a soft mash. Sugar and cinnamon can also be added for extra sweetness.
Apple purée is a form of applesauce. While apple purée is always smooth, applesauce can be evenly blended or chunky. It is made in the same way as apple purée, using different finishing techniques depending on the desired thickness and smoothness. For thinner applesauce, water is added during the cooking process; for chunkier applesauce, the apples are cubed before cooking and then cooked until they are soft but not mushy. Applesauce ranges from sweet to tart, depending on the kind of apples used and the amount of sugar added.
Applesauce is commonly used as baby food because it is nutritious and easy to digest. Applesauce for babies is made in purée form, blended for maximum smoothness to limit the baby's risk of choking. It is also made without using the apple skins, because they are the part of the fruit most likely to be contaminated, and without adding any sugar or spices. Babies can begin eating applesauce when they are four- to six-months-old.
In baking, applesauce can be used to replace oils and melted butter, creating healthier muffins, cakes and cookies. One tbsp of applesauce replaces 1 tbsp of liquid fat. Apple purée works better for this than chunkier applesauce -- a smooth purée changes the texture of baked goods less than an uneven sauce. Recipes made with applesauce instead of fat may take longer to bake and the natural sweetness of the apples means some bakers may choose to use less sugar.